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New images of M87’s black hole reveal magnetized ring around it

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In the nearly galaxy M87, more than 50 million light years from Earth, a supermassive black hole feeds on vast clouds of gas and dust. Jets, more than 5,000 light years long, erupt from this enigmatic body six billion times more massive than the Sun.

In 2019, the first detailed images ever recorded of the region around a black hole were released, showing a bright ring-like structure surrounding a dark void.

A new study of this data uncovered secrets of the magnetic fields of black holes, showing the region around the supermassive black hole in M87 in unprecedented detail.

These images, taken in radio frequencies with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, might also explain the mechanism driving the massive jets seen erupting from this supermassive black hole.

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Supermassive black holes are found near the center of all galaxies, and the highly-energetic magnetic fields they produce can fuel massive jets, sending material racing from the galactic core. Understanding how the jets are influenced by the supermassive black holes as they form and develop remained elusive. Studying polarization of light at the edge of the black hole provided a wealth of new data to astronomers.

Credit: NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)